Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 12
Solomon became the king of Israel while his father, David, was still alive. However, it seems that Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, did not become king until some time after his father’s death.
Israel was a nation of 12 tribes (family groups). The 10 northern tribes did not want to appoint Rehoboam king until they had made an agreement about his authority. They did not want to have another powerful king, like Solomon, who forced their people to work hard for him.
The situation had changed since the start of Solomon’s rule, when the people worked gladly to build the temple (the house of God). Israel had become a much richer nation, and the people wanted to enjoy the benefits of that wealth. Instead, they now felt as if they were the slaves of their king (compare 1 Samuel 8:11-17).
So, Israel’s people gathered at Shechem, in the centre of Israel, to discuss the matter. They chose Jeroboam to speak on their behalf to Rehoboam. Jeroboam had previously led the workmen from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. It seems that Israel’s people chose him to speak to Rehoboam because of his (Jeroboam’s) firm character. He had formerly opposed Solomon on their behalf (11:26-28); and he had no desire to please Rehoboam.
Rehoboam would not have wanted to deal with Jeroboam. Even Solomon had tried to kill Jeroboam, and since that time, Jeroboam had remained in Egypt (11:40). Now Jeroboam returned to Israel, so that he could argue with Rehoboam about the future rights of Rehoboam as king.
Next part: Rehoboam should make the people's work easier (1 Kings 12:4-5)
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